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Twins fire general manager Bill Smith, name former GM Terry Ryan as interim replacement

Nov 7, 2011, 4:04 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

Minnesota gave zero indication that general manager Bill Smith’s job was in jeopardy despite a 99-loss season, with ownership publicly issuing a vote of confidence last month, but today the Twins fired Smith and replaced him on an interim basis with former general manager Terry Ryan.

Smith replaced Ryan as GM in late 2007 and has made a series of unsuccessful big-picture moves, including trading Johan Santana, Matt Garza, Wilson Ramos, and J.J. Hardy for very underwhelming returns.

When Ryan stepped down from the job in 2007 he cited a desire to focus on baseball rather than the off-field responsibilities that come along with being a GM, whereas the perception of Smith is that he was far more suited to handle those off-field responsibilities than he was making personnel decisions. He made several nice low-wattage free agent signings, but the bigger the move the worse Smith fared.

It’s unclear how long Ryan plans to stay on as GM this time around, but last week the Twins brought back his former right-hand man, Wayne Krivsky, who left Minnesota to become Cincinnati’s GM in 2005. They also denied the Orioles’ request to interview vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff. This isn’t so much a front office shakeup as it is admitting a mistake and turning back to the clock to the previous regime.

UPDATE: Smith did a local radio interview with 1500-ESPN and was an organizational soldier to the end, refusing to say a bad word about anyone. He’s been offered another role in the organization, but said he’s undecided. It was a very weird post-firing chat and Smith cited “philosophical differences” while making it pretty obvious that he was surprised by the firing.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Thank God!!!!!!!! Billy Smith is the biggest idiot in baseball and was in waaaaaaaay over his fat belly and head.

    • kopy - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:14 PM

      This must be a little like what it was for Cubs fans to hear they got Epstein, only if they had also heard Hendry was out the door at the same time.

    • vikesfansteve - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Good get him out of there before he signs another japanese player who can’t hit to a 9 million dollar contract then deals the top prospect & 3 draft picks for a closer who can’t close.

  2. Bryz - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Holy crap. This came out of nowhere, but as a Twins fan that finally became fed up with Bill Smith, this is great news.

    • karaterobot - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:12 PM


      Seriously, this is, to the word, exactly what I was about to comment.

  3. kjkulsrud - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Thank gawd. I’ve missed Terry Ryan so much since he left. Finally a smart BASEBALL guy in the driver’s seat. #itshappening

  4. uyf1950 - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    The dreaded “vote of confidence” by ownership. Has anyone every gotten the “vote of confidence and not been fired soon thereafter.

  5. JB (the original) - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Christmas comes early! This is going to be a strange off-season methinks.

  6. sknut - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Bill Smith was good at certain things but poor at far too many to make up the difference. He gave up on Hardy, didn’t trade Delmon when he should have and relied on too many people to make decisions.

    I also hope that the new GM will embrace sabermetrics and add more personnel to handle this and catch up to the rest of the pack.

    • Cris E - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      No, no, no, it’s “Fall back, spring ahead.” This is November so we’re going *back* ten years.

  7. karaterobot - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    I’m astonished, and thrilled; I’m rarely so giddy about someone’s termination. I’m going to go buy a discounted twins thome t-shirt tonight to celebrate.

  8. natsattack - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I want more Wilson Ramoses!!!
    -Mike Rizzo

    • sknut - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:36 PM

      So I guess you aren’t getting Span for Drew Storen this offseason? I won’t shed a tear for that one.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:06 PM

      Rizzo sitting at his desk at Nats Park, crying softly…

  9. The Common Man - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    I don’t think I’ve ever been happier that someone lost their job. I feel, for the first time since the end of 2010, that it’s ok to be unconditionally optimistic again. I look forward to enjoying that for the next several minutes until it becomes clear that I’ve forgotten something.

  10. Ben - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Fantastic news! Now is there some way to roll back the Mauer contract?

    • JBerardi - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:12 PM


  11. shaggylocks - Nov 7, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    They had to get rid of Smith: he couldn’t pitch into the eighth inning.

  12. Tim OShenko - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    YES!!! At long last, the first good Twins-related news item of the year.

  13. chip56 - Nov 8, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Among the gaffes that have been pointed at above, Smith will also go down as the GM who signed what could become the worst contract in baseball – Joe Mauer’s deal. Of course, that’s a no win situation – he had to sign Mauer but if Joe’s production and health continue to spiral as they did last year it is going to be an albatross for that organization.

  14. Kanonen80 - Nov 8, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Not to rain on everyone’s parade, but did anyone else catch Pohlad’s comment about the payroll going DOWN to $100 million for 2012? Along with Ryan comes a rebuild methinks.

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